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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM22-PP3: Containing traumatisation through rediscovering the social nature of thinking

Parallel Papers Session 1
Friday 1 July 10.15am-11.30 CEST
Paper Code: PP3
CE credits available

Containing traumatisation through rediscovering the social nature of thinking

Presenter: Martin Ringer


Humans are fundamentally social animals but the responses to the Covid pandemic have torn through the social fabric that previously supported the social and emotional wellbeing of many people around the World. This paper proposes that we examine closely the intrinsically social nature of thinking, thus enabling us to deal in a more collective and contained manner with traumatization; past, present and future.

Thinking together is one potentially healing response to individual and collective traumatization, as well as a potential means for diminishing future traumatization. However, the widespread conceptualization that thinking in human society resides purely in the brains of individuals can prevent us from perceiving and valuing the existing intrinsic social fabric. Failure to perceive this resource results in our neither valuing it nor benefiting from it.

The paper explores some of the social pressures that promote individualistic views of human nature at the expense of understanding the social nature of human experience and of thinking. It is suggested that the concepts of containment and social capital can help provide real-world means of enhancing the collective capacity for supporting traumatised people. Bringing these concepts to the foreground has the potential to mobilize the resource that resides as an unconscious network and that would otherwise be overlooked and neglected.

Underlying concepts for this paper are drawn from socioanalysis, neuroscience, psychotherapy, group dynamics and sociology. See an abbreviated list of sources below.

Learning Objectives

After this session participants will be able to:

  1. Critique Commonly held views on the individualistic nature of thinking.
  2. Recognize In themselves the implicit assumptions about the individualistic nature of thinking.
  3. Apply concepts relating to the social nature of thinking.

Biographic Summary

Martin Ringer is an experienced author, presenter and workshop facilitator who has worked extensively in a range of countries and contexts. His work on the dynamics of groups, teams, organizations and communities is widely published. He teaches accessible and engaging writing to make psychodynamic and socioanalytic ideas widely accessible. Martin facilitated a successful PDW on accessible writing as a part of the 2021 Berlin ISPSO AM. Martin has retired but still writes for professional publications in the social sciences, teaches as guest lecturer in a number of universities and offers professional workshops in adventure therapy, consulting and writing.


Dalal, F. (1998). Taking the group seriously: Towards a post-Foulkesian group analytic theory. London, Jessica Kingsley.

Damasio, A. (2018). The strange order of things: Life, feeling, and making of cultures, Vintage: Kindle edition.

Eagleman, D. (2015). The brain: The story of you. New York, Pantheon Books/Amazon Kindle.

Ginot, E. (2015). The neuropsychology of the unconscious: Integrating brain and mind in psychotherapy. W. W. Norton & Company, New York.

Gordon, R. (In print). Reflective opportunities and collective thinking. The collective spark: Igniting thinking in groups, teams and the wider World. M. Ringer, R. Gordon and B. Vandenbussche (Eds). Gent, Belgium, Grafische Cel Sint-Lucas – LUCA School of Arts.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow, Farrar, Straus and Giroux